THE FUN FACTOR
Play remains an integral part of the holiday offering...
Independently commissioned research - by leading outdoor play and sport provider Proludic, has shown that the public is as keen as ever to see high-quality outdoor play areas at holiday destinations across the UK. The results showed a relationship between the availability of play facilities and time spent at leisure venues. There is a clear desire to see play as an integral part of the offering.
Over half (51%) of the respondents said play areas were an important consideration for them when visiting a holiday park, or visitor attraction. A significant 41% said they were more likely to book a UK holiday park vacation if they had made good provisions for children’s play. The majority (65%) said keeping children entertained in a good play space at all visitor and leisure attractions was important to them.
Post pandemic, there appears to be a strong demand for parents to allow children the freedom to play outdoors in the fresh air, particularly as they have recently spent many months indoors. Playing outdoors has many benefits but particularly improves mental health, fitness and boosts vitamin D levels.
Proludic’s history in play began in 1985 with a range of play equipment constructed from timber. Back then the focus was to capture the elements of nature incorporating tree houses to play in, logs to balance along and trunks to climb up.
Nature is ever present in Proludic’s history influencing designs and creating wonderful play opportunities for children in the play areas that the company has built over the last three decades. Nature has an abundance of play resources for children and is an ideal setting for adventure and discovery. The unstructured activities provided by nature stimulate physical activity, imagination, creativity, motor skills and cognitive development.
The use of natural materials in the construction of playground equipment brings nature into the play space and can offer an ideal backdrop within holiday destination venues and at leisure attractions. With this in mind, Proludic’s Origin’ range, launched in 2013, was designed to provide children with a secure environment to learn and develop through exploring nature’s play activities.
Balance trails, swings, springers, roundabouts and role-play items offer individual play opportunities to support movement development. A range of multiplay units has limitless combinations. Triangular towers with different floors, heights, ladders, climbing, ramps, fixed, and mobile, bridges, tunnels, vertical nuts, climbing walls, slides and Fireman’s poles.
All of these elements, make for original tailor-made play combinations. Known for its durability and resistance in outdoor environments to insects, fungus and inclement weather, Robinia guarantees the longevity of playground facilities. Rotproof and stable over time, it can be installed in the ground without the need for chemical treatments.
The Robinia used for the Origin range is PEFC-certified, which means it comes from sustainably managed European forests. Due to the expertise and skill of Proludic team members who have worked within the forestry industry, the company has recently extended the standard Origin’ range to include larger structures based on three themes - Medieval Legends and Tales, Adventures in Nature and Sealife Scenes.
Wicksteed is the leading manufacturer of outdoor playground equipment in the UK. The company boasts a longstanding history and heritage within the playground sector, developing trusted relationships with schools, councils, holiday parks and housing developers for more than 100 years. Working in partnership is a key ingredient for Wicksteed projects.
For instance, Pensnett Coppice has undergone a remarkable transformation, thanks to the dedicated collaboration between Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, Friends of the Coppice, and Wicksteed Leisure. This rejuvenation project not only brought life back to the once-empty site but also created a vibrant and engaging playground that seamlessly blends with the natural surroundings.
With Wicksteed Leisure’s unwavering commitment to safety, children can now explore and play with peace of mind. The newly installed play equipment, in vibrant yellows and greens, stands as a beacon of joy amidst the natural beauty of the surroundings. Wicksteed Leisure’s expertise in design and playability ensured that the equipment seamlessly integrated into the environment while capturing attention from afar.
Every element was carefully selected to provide a diverse range of engaging options, offering endless hours of entertainment for children of all ages and abilities. Harmony with the natural environment was a paramount consideration in the playground’s design.
To preserve the rural charm of Pensnett Coppice, the play area features Notts Sport synthetic carpet surfacing. This durable and robust surface not only enhances safety but also blends harmoniously with the picturesque surroundings. The transformed playground has been embraced wholeheartedly by the local community.
Following significant investment, SF Parks has launched a much-anticipated high ropes course at its White House Leisure Park in Towyn, Wales. This latest addition to the park will be followed by an upgrade to Jakes family restaurant and pub, an amusement arcade, a cinema room, and soft play, complementing existing facilities including a crazy golf course and food and drinks outlets.
And it comes as the family-owned business awaits planning permission for another adrenaline-fuelled activity – The Jump – where customers can leap from a three or six-foot platform onto a giant airbag. SF Parks, which also owns Golden Gate in Towyn, Riverside and Sun Valley in Rhuddlan, and Sirior Bach in Moelfre, Abergele, has big plans for the future. Director Jonathan Seldon says these exciting developments are just the start.
“The response to the high ropes course and all of our plans has been really positive, so we thank everyone for their support,” he said. “Our loyal customers are always top priority and enhancing their experience is paramount, which is why we will continue to make improvements and introduce more exhilarating and engaging attractions across the SF Parks portfolio.”
Fellow director Oliver Seldon reinforced those comments and revealed their overall vision will lead to more developments in the months ahead. “This new attraction and The Jump – should we receive the green light next month – show how committed we are to our customers and also the local economy, supporting small businesses and creating full-time and seasonal jobs,” he said. “We will continue to improve standards, embrace innovation and keep investing in all of our parks as that will have a lasting impact not just on SF Parks but the region’s tourism sector.”
If you are looking for more examples of holiday stay and play options, then look no further than Blenheim Palace that offers vacations in partnership with Darwin Escapes. A new £3.6 million outdoor play experience at Blenheim, has been carefully designed and created to ensure children of all abilities from the ages of 2-12 are able to explore and enjoy the extensive play areas.
Adventure Play is a series of immersive interconnecting zones with secret chambers, clamber nets, tunnels, slides, rope bridges - and giant carrots! Covering a site larger than a football pitch, it celebrates the rich heritage of the 18th century baroque Palace, inspired by real-life features including the lakeside Boat House and Hensington Gateway.
Unfortunately, the days when children played out on the street all day are long gone. For many children today – especially families without gardens – outdoor play only happens on holidays.
The onus is therefore on holiday park owners and operators to ensure the play facilities they offer are the best they can be. The key message is invest in outdoor play and you will be rewarded with happy families who are much more likely to return to your park – and tell their friends about it.
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Technical Outdoor Solutions
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